- The big news coming out of Saturday in Sochi was confirmation of McLaren’s switch from Renault to Mercedes power units from 2021, following the emergence of reports through Friday. The deal will run until at least the 2024 season, and sees a rekindling of the famed McLaren-Mercedes partnership that ran from 1995 until 2014.

- The deal will see Mercedes supply McLaren with the power unit and nothing more, with the partnership not extending to gearboxes, which McLaren will continue to make in-house.

- Mercedes chief Toto Wolff stressed the deal was not opening the door for McLaren to become the Mercedes works team once again. “It was important to make clear that there is a works team today, and this is a customer power unit relationship, and not the start of a works deal and us not being there anymore,” Wolff said. “As it stands, we are keen in understanding how Formula 1 goes forward, how it develops, and continuing preferably as a works team.”

- Renault had proposed an extension of its existing deal with McLaren beyond 2021, but wished for closer synergies between the two teams, working together to try and cut the gap to the top three teams. Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul said McLaren was looking for a “simple” customer deal, though, prompting a mutual decision to break off talks.

- Back on-track, Charles Leclerc swept to his fourth pole position in a row after dominating qualifying, putting in two laps good enough for pole in Q3, with an eventual margin to the rest of the field of 0.402 seconds. Leclerc said after qualifying he felt he had only one clean lap in the session – his first run in Q3, which wasn’t even his best lap.

- Leclerc now has six poles to his name this season, and is the first Ferrari driver to take four on the trot since Michael Schumacher back in 2001.

- Lewis Hamilton managed to split the Ferrari drivers in qualifying for the third weekend in a row, taking P2 on the grid with his final run in qualifying. Hamilton said after the session that Ferrari “have some crazy speeds on the straights”, adding: “They go to another level. That whole party mode you talked about us having, they have something else beyond that – jet mode!” Hamilton had estimated on Friday that Mercedes was losing as much as eight-tenths of a second on the straights alone.

- Sebastian Vettel suffered his ninth consecutive qualifying defeat to Leclerc, taking P3 on the grid in the sister Ferrari. Vettel denied there was a pattern emerging, though: “I don’t think there’s any pattern standing out, saying that he’s always faster in the same type of corner,” Vettel said. “Obviously the last couple of races was closer than maybe it looked on the result so we will see what happens tomorrow. Usually come race day I’m getting more and more confident in the car and pace has never been a problem in the race so we will see what happens.”

- Max Verstappen managed to qualify fourth for Red Bull, but will drop back to ninth as a result of his grid penalty for an engine change. He wound up six-tenths of a second back from Leclerc, and, like Hamilton, put Ferrari’s advantage down to its straight-line speed advantage.

- Renault and McLaren continued their close fight to lead the midfield, filling out four of the five remaining spots in Q3. Carlos Sainz managed to lead the way for McLaren ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris, with Daniel Ricciardo sitting P10 for Renault. Ricciardo said he had felt a step behind Hulkenberg all weekend, losing most time in the middle sector.

- Romain Grosjean felt surprised to make it through to Q3 for Haas as the team continued to experiment with its car setups, qualifying ninth. “Obviously it’s a bit of a surprise,” he said. “We were not expecting to have a good weekend, but from FP1 the car felt good and I think we did a good job and got the maximum out of it.”

- Alexander Albon was the only major casualty in Q1 after a crash at Turn 13 brought his session to an early end. Albon lost the rear of his car and spun into the wall, blaming it on a tailwind that caught him out. Barring any further penalties, Albon will start P18 despite his five-place grid drop given the ‘back of grid’ sanctions for Robert Kubica and Daniil Kvyat.

- Toro Rosso driver Kvyat took no part in qualifying after an issue on his engine in final practice prompted the team into making changes. With little to play for, it opted against rushing in order to get Kvyat out in time for Q1.

- In bigger Toro Rosso-related news, it emerged on Saturday that the team is set to change name for next year, subject to approval from the rest of the grid. Toro Rosso will become Alpha Tauri, the name of Red Bull’s fashion brand.

- F1 bosses Chase Carey and Ross Brawn held a meeting with the drivers on Friday to discuss plans for the rule changes in 2021, which received a positive reception. "Yesterday we were briefed on 2021 by Ross and Chase, and it was a good step forward," said Carlos Sainz. "It was quite a long meeting but it was productive. Now it's a matter of waiting and seeing how those 2021 rules work."

- After Daniil Kvyat was prevented from using a one-off helmet in Russia over an FIA stipulation, the matter came up in Friday's drivers' briefing, with the grid taking Kvyat's side. "Everyone looked at Seb because he has a new one every race, and no one seems to tell him!" said Ricciardo. "[The rule] is pretty stupid. We all encouraged Dany to just wear it. He has grid penalties anyway, so what else can happen?"

- Both the Formula 2 and Formula 3 titles were settled on Saturday in Sochi with races to spare. Nyck de Vries clinched the F2 title with victory in the Feature Race, wrapping things up with three races to go in the season. He will move into Formula E for the 2019-20 campaign with Mercedes. In F3, Ferrari junior Robert Shwartzman clinched the title with one race to spare, finishing second behind Prema teammate Marcus Armstrong after a last-lap battle.

- The Russian Grand Prix begins at 1410 local time on Sunday (1210 BST).

 

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